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Background: Organizational-level recruitment strategies have not been well detailed in the literature. This manuscript compares three methods of organizational level recruitment of beauty salons into a large community based cancer prevention intervention trial called The North Carolina BEAUTY and Health Project. Methods: Three recruitment methods (e.g. phone call prior to visit, drop-in visit or referral plus visit) were applied to a random sample of 100 salons per group to identify the most effective recruitment approach. Salons were considered eligible when they signed a study agreement form. The goal was to recruit at least 60 salons from which 40 would be selected to participate in the trial. Here we report salon recruitment procedures, sub-study results by method, and related recruitment costs. Results: Of the 62 salons which signed study agreement forms, 13/318 (4.1%) were recruited via the phone call prior to visit method; 32/222 (14.4%) via the drop-in visit method; and 17/34 (50%) via the referral method. The costs per salon recruited by each method were determined as well. Conclusions: The referral method, made possible due to the community-based participatory research approach, provided the best recruitment yield overall; yet available time, personnel, resources and costs must also be considered when selecting among future organizational level recruitment methods.